All right everybody, it’s 2014 and it’s just about time that you all learned the difference between champagne, Prosecco and their sparkling wine contemporaries. Frankly, I am baffled that there is still any confusion since the advent of the global information connectivity device known as the Internet, but apparently many of you have not yet mastered the art of Google, so let’s break it down old-school print styles.
First of all, the generic term for wine that has received a secondary fermentation, giving it a pleasant effervescence, is “sparkling wine.” Affectionately it is known as “bubbly.” Contrary to popular belief, not all sparkling wine is champagne, nor is it necessarily Prosecco. For God’s sake, even Chingy knows that! Do you want to be considered less educated than Chingy? Do you?
Champagne comes from Champagne, a region of France. Due to its well-earned reputation, champagne is the most expensive of the sparkling wines and can be found in the homes of kings, presidents, gangsta rappers and poor-ass white kids attempting to look like gangsta rappers. Champagne can be made exclusively from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or by blending any of the three grapes with one another. The most important thing to remember about champagne is that if you show up to a dinner party with it, you are a hero.
Prosecco is a sparkling wine from Italy. It tends to be much less expensive than champagne and is often (not always) a drier, more crisp wine than its French counterpart. Prosecco is normally made from a grape called Glera, but there are a number of other grapes that can be blended into the wine. Prosecco is becoming much more visible and available in global markets thanks largely in part to it being adopted by as the alcohol of choice for unhappy housewives attempting to drink the sadness away.
Ever had someone ask, “Would you like some Cava?” and then refused it because you were expecting to receive fish eggs on toast, only to find out they were actually offering a delicious sparkling wine with which you can drunken up your mind? Bummer! Had you known what Cava was, you would know you were offered the national sparkling wine of Spain, produced mostly in Penedes. Cava gets its name from the caves that housed the wine to age it in the early days of production. Next time around, remember that Cava is good; you want Cava.
In good ol’ North America we call the majority of our wines by the generic name, sparkling wine. Nice and easy-like, no muss, no fuss.
We have covered four of the major sparklings, but there are many other variations in the world and it’s a daunting task to learn them all, so if you are unsure, stick to the program and ask for bubbles or sparkling wine. Your retail clerk or server will walk you through what is available and you can say things like, “Prosecco is from Italy,” and “Cava is from caves in Spain,” and we can all act like we know what the hell we are talking about.
By Jeff Jamieson